BETHEL – Mary Merrill and Barbara Sabin, kindergarten teachers at Crescent Park School, are being recognized for their creativity and success in the classroom as Disney Teacher Award nominees.

Merrill and Sabin join an elite group of teachers from across the country who have been recognized by their communities. As the next step in the awards process, Merrill and Sabin are submitting their applications to be considered for the 2006 Disney Teachers of the Year Award.

Merrill and Sabin said, “We are very honored by this nomination. To be able to foster creativity and diversity in our classrooms, we feel it is important to provide a safe and engaging environment for our students. One way of achieving this is by making genuine lifelong connections with our students.”

Dr. Judith A. Whitman, Crescent Park School principal, said, “Mary and Barbara are both outstanding educators. They truly talk the talk and walk the walk! They connect with the hearts of their students and bring vibrancy, quality and joy to the learning process. They are masters of the art of teaching.”

Since 1989, Disney Teacher Awards have been presented to teachers who construct learning environments where students and teachers explore, imagine and engage in a variety of stimulating ideas and experiences. The program honors those teachers whose approaches exemplify creativity in teaching and who inspire a joy of learning in their students.

In addition to letters of recommendation, Merrill and Sabin will each submit an application that includes several professional reflection essays describing their classrooms and approach to teaching, the impact of high stakes testing, how they approach collaboration in their school and career and an event that shaped them as teachers. A committee comprised of education experts from around the country will review the applications and select the winners.

The honorees will be announced in late spring and celebrated at a red-carpet awards gala in July in Burbank, Calif. Four will be selected as outstanding teachers and one will be named the 2006 Disney Teacher of the Year.

In addition, the honorees will each receive $10,000, a $5,000 grant for their schools and a six-day professional development institute with their principals at the Walt Disney World Resort. At the institute, teachers will share ideas to refine their innovative teaching approaches and learn how to engage other teachers to build an effective collaborative teaching culture at their schools.

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